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 Gaming Trends

Top Gaming Trends for 2018

By: K.R. Stevenson, Marketing Generalist 

Whether watching streams of our favorite speedrunners, comparing reviews, participating in LAN parties and tournaments, or sparing a Friday night to play online with friends, this year the gaming industry is enabling the community to share new experiences more than ever before. Here are a few ways they’re doing it.

MOBAs Still Top Charts

These days you can’t throw an acronym without hitting a favorite title in the genre. Dota 2, LoL, and HotS are a few such household names. And for a good reason. Not only will you be hard-pressed to find a MOBA that isn’t free to enjoy on a casual level, but the competition and addictively challenging play style make them difficult to put down no matter the platform. Some of the most intense esports tournaments feature devoted teams of professional MOBA players grappling for hefty purses into the bargain of bragging rights. Never mind the prizes though; thrust the temptation of bragging rights in front of any strategic gamer and expect them to leave it alone. Then, watch how fast they check their tactics and enter the fray with their team.

Catering to millions of casual and hardcore players across the world means there are plenty of opportunities for MOBAs to branch out in 2018. Cross-genre titles like Paragon and Smite already break from traditional perspectives to offer a more immersive over-the-shoulder view of the battlefield. Hyper Universe this year follows in the footsteps of the 2012 release Awesomenauats to bring players another side-scrolling tug-of-war. And there is no shortage of other releases on the horizon, all vying for the attention of discerning strategists everywhere.

More Co-operative Open World RPGs

Sometimes difficult to spot through the fog of discourse online, developers continuously beg for and devour community feedback. Single Player RPG fans will recall a measure of collective disappointment over Elder Scrolls Online being Bethesda’s response to our craving for something akin to Skyrim With Friends. While we still haven’t quite found what we seek in any online games yet, companies like Activision and EA were already anticipating the popularity of the concept—one even got its feet wet that same year.

Enter: Bungie’s Destiny series and Bioware’s upcoming Anthem; a merging of that Single Player RPG feeling and the cooperative Action RPG experience. Sharing adventures through dynamic, open landscapes, malleable narratives, and unique lore drives Single Player RPG enthusiasts to explore those worlds in the first place. Now we can enjoy them together? Yes, please. Those ingredients brew a satisfying tincture for us players firmly in the PvE demographic who still want to own face alongside our friends. Future titles developed around the concept have the potential to be both engaging entertainment and astounding works of storytelling. Given the speculative excitement surrounding promises the seeds of Anthem offer, it won’t be surprising if similar IPs are announced by other major industry players in 2018.

Growing Tech

There’s no question the Nintendo Switch is changing popular opinions about handheld gaming left and right. According to Nintendo’s internal sales figures, it was the fastest-selling gaming platform in US history, with 4.8 million units sold in the United States and 10 million units sold worldwide in 2017. Their most popular title, Super Mario Odyssey, features a fun, quirky co-op option. In 2018, Steep, TowerFall Ascension, the new Kirby Star Allies, and many other titles built for human interaction are coming to the console. The challenge here is for developers to keep releasing games with fresh, unexplored multiplayer experiences.

Speaking of gaming-on-the-go, as mobile phones and tablets become more powerful so too will the games we play on them. Star Wars: KOTOR and Jade Empire are two ports from traditional consoles re-tooled for mobile devices, but even games developed specifically for mobile devices now more often contain console-quality graphics and interaction. Their accessibility means both industry leaders and indie developers will likely grow their respective catalogs of immersive games this year and into the future.

And we can’t talk about the future of gaming without touching on Virtual Reality. The state of VR in 2018 doesn’t look so great for the typical gamer. Because the technology is still in relative infancy and thus more costly than other options, the VR experience with games will probably remain a niche market for early adopters and investors in the industry. Until it becomes more accessible to the average gamer, VR is proving its other benefits in education, training, and virtual tours. So, while we might be more than a few years away from a pervasive virtual world like OASIS, all the elements for its eventual inception appear to be in the works.